In a visit Feb. 20 to Glens Falls, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer talks about how a brownfield cleanup grant he’s lobbying for on behalf of the city will boost area economic development as well as clean up the local environment and curb potential public health risks stemming from chemical pollution. Listening to Schumer’s pledge to help secure $700,000 in EPA money are Warren County Economic Development Corp. president Ed Bartholomew (center) and John Davidson (right), co-owner of Davidson Brothers Brewery.
Meeting with local community leaders Feb. 20, U.S. Sen Charles Schumer pledged to lobby federal officials for a grant to clean up brownfield sites in the city.
At a press conference held in front of the former Aroxy Cleaners on Warren St. in Glens Falls, Schumer said he would be urging officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide a $700,000 grant to the city so it could clean up six or more former industrial and commercial sites contaminated with chemicals.
“We have to clean up and reclaim these blighted properties and get them ready for redevelopment,” he said, noting that the particular sites were located near many homes and a school. “They not only pose a health risk due to the highly toxic chemicals, but they are a obstacle to development, a roadblock to economic growth, they are sites for crime, and they devalue properties in the neighborhood.”
Recently, Warren County EDC submitted an application for a brownfield remediation grant through the EPA’s Revolving Loan Fund which would allow the city to award loans or grants to property owners and businesses to clean up the specified sites in Glens Falls Ward 1: Aroxy Cleaners, the former U.S. Post office, a textile mill, Perkins Recycling plant, and the former Warren Garage Chrysler dealership, all along Warren St. downtown. Also to be remediated is the former Mullen Iron Works plant now belonging to Miller Mechanical on Cooper St. north of the Post-Star offices.
Warren County EDC President Ed Bartholomew said that the cleanup of the Miller Mechanical property was a top priority.
“Miller Mechanical is a strong business, and they want to expand.”
Elizabeth Miller, owner of Miller Mechanical which fabricates steel for the paper-making equipment, was present at the press conference.
“With this help from the EPA, we could expand our operations and create 20 to 30 new high-paying jobs,” she said.
Schumer said cleaning up brownfields in Glens Falls was particularly important, as sites available for development in the city were rare.
Less than 1 percent of the city’s land is available for commercial and industrial development, but more than 15 percent could be “recycled and redeveloped,” he said.
“Vacant, developable land in Glens Falls is a hot commodity,” he said. “Brownfield cleanup provides a great opportunity for the city to host commercial development and new businesses.”
Brewpub entrepreneur John Davidson, present at the press conference, said he had located his new brewery in Queensbury rather than Glens Falls due to this shortage of available land.
Schumer said that the EPA brownfield grants were sought after by dozens of communities, and the process was apt to be competitive. However, Glens Falls has a good shot at obtaining one, he predicted, because in prior awards, it has followed through on its pledges and accomplished its cleanup goals successfully, he said.
“The track record Glens Falls has gives it a good leg up in the grant competition,” Schumer said.
Bartholomew noted that with the grant money, a fund is established that primarily awards loans that are paid back with proceeds from the sale of remediated property — so perhaps more than six plots could be cleaned up. He said that the six sites have relatively superficial pollution.
State Assemblyman Dan Stec offered his thoughts.
”We’re appreciative of Sen Schumer’s continued support of Glens Falls,” he said. “Brownfield reclamation is important both environmentally and economically.”
Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond said he appreciated Schumer’s visit as well as his ongoing support for urban land reclamation and his commitment to boosting the local economy.
“Sen. Schumer has his finger on the pulse of the Glens Falls region,” he said.